While women have many options for birth control, Essure ranks among the safest and most effective means of permanent birth control.

This simple in-office procedure that requires only light sedation and/or a local anesthetic entails inserting a nickel alloy device through the cervix and into each fallopian tube. Over the course of a few months, scar tissue forms around the devices and, in turn, seals off the tubes.

After approximately 90 days, a confirmatory test is performed to verify sterilization. This follow-up test involves injecting a special dye through the cervix into the uterine cavity and watching for signs of dye leakage from the tubes. If no leakage is detected, then the procedure is considered successful and permanent sterilization is confirmed.

In the roughly five years it has been commercially available, Essure has reported a less than 1 percent failure rate, making it even more effective than laparoscopic sterilization.

Essure is available to most women, regardless of age. However, candidates must have a fairly normal uterine anatomy with no nickel allergies.

The procedure, which takes about five minutes to perform in a physician’s office, is associated with minimal downtime. Patients are generally able to return to work the following day with little to no pain or need for pain medication.

Essure cannot be reversed. Make sure sterilization is your objective before considering this permanent form of birth control.

• Dr. Brock Jackson is an OB/GYN on staff at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor, or call Jackson’s Ahwatukee office at (480) 759-9191.

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